Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

April 4, 2013

Image of fear given in testimony

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — It was at times emotional to be sure as witnesses described the terror they felt when a group of masked men violently broke into their Pauls Valley area homes more than two years ago.

Testimony from three people, including a married couple, provided an image of blood and fear as the trial for Steven Thompson, 33, also known as “Petey G,” continued this week in a Garvin County District courtroom.

Thompson is among the group of five accused of being the men who forced their way into homes in PV and Elmore City for apparent burglaries in November 2010.

The others include Justin Robbins, 24, Tygue Stephens, 28, Jonathon Smith, 23, and Derrick Lane, 23.

Each of the suspects faces multiple felony counts that include conspiracy, burglary, robbery, assault and kidnapping.

A nine-man, three-woman jury heard testimony that first offered more details about the home invasions.

Then it was Doug Rhodes, also known as D.J., who said it was Thompson who acted as the leader of the four men wearing bandanas and masks when they forced their way into his Elmore City home during the early morning hours of Nov. 15, 2010.

Despite being violently beaten by two of the suspects, Rhodes said he still caught enough signals to recognize one was Thompson concealed behind a mask and dark glasses he described as safety glasses typically used with cutting torches.

Rhodes testified he was able to catch a glimpse of the man’s eyes.

“He was cross-eyed,” Rhodes said, referring to a trait shared by Thompson.

“By his voice and the eyes I knew who it was,” he said. “It was Steven Thompson.”

Although they had never met, Rhodes said he knew who Thompson was through his brother’s work.

When Rhodes later first spoke with law enforcement he didn’t hesitate to name Thompson as one of the assailants.

Rhodes said he was asleep with his wife and five-year-old son in the living room when the home invasion and violence began. Their two other children were in other rooms at the time.

“They came in with a gun right to my head,” he said. “They were yelling and hollering and they started beating me with the butt of a rifle.”

A second attacker then used a baseball bat to continue the pounding to Rhodes head, face and upper body that later required a number of stitches.

The comment, “I want to take your soul,” was made by one of the men during the act, Rhodes said.

Both Rhodes and his wife Gail said during earlier testimony the masked men were asking about the “casino money,” which was a reference to the couple’s recent winnings from a casino at that time.

At one point a gunshot went off toward Rhodes, which led to his young son running toward him. That in turn led to the boy being grabbed and protected by his mother, who sustained a fractured wrist when an assailant used a rifle butt to strike at the crying boy but hit her instead.

“My son thought I was shot,” Rhodes said. “There was a lot of blood on me.”

Rhodes did admit the physical beating he was taking made it difficult to accurately remember everything from the incident.

“When you’re watching your wife and son and there are four guys running through the house and I’m getting beat and I have a gun in my face, it’s hard to piece it all together,” he said.

Testimony was at times filled with tears earlier in the day as both Gail Rhodes and Kassy Brown of Pauls Valley described the terror they felt from the separate break-ins only hours apart.